Latest Indictment Shows Mafia Has Fallen

Bronx-based restaurant allegedly owned by Genovese capo on ruling panel of East Cost Syndicate case.

The Italian-American Mafia is still something of a force in New York City, if nowhere else. 

But despite American law enforcement's efforts to depict it as otherwise, it's clear the mob is nowhere near the menace it once actually was. Even the nicknames suck.

It's difficult to read this latest indictment and believe this entity was once a mighty, highly structured criminal organization known for committing murders and spinning rackets anywhere and everywhere possible, that it was once considered powerful enough to be a second government.

Where we once had expressions like, It's safer to send flowers (meaning it's better to kill a guy if there is even the possibility of him doing anything to incriminate you) we now have:
"Give him a flat. Then you catch up with him because then he’s there, ya know, he’s got to get it fixed, he can’t go nowhere..."

How far the mob has fallen, based on this indictment, cannot be highlighted more than in the case of Joey Merlino, the man considered to be the Philly mob boss -- as well as one of three bosses of this "new East Coast Syndicate" thing.

The indictment didn't provide any details about his alleged role as a boss. However it did note the following of Merlino, who's been suspected of committing homicides:

He was busted as part of a yearslong investigation that involved a witness and an undercover FBI agent.

Merlino and others (primarily Bradley "Brad" Sirkin, 54, of Boca Raton, Carmine Gallo, 38, of Delray Beach, and Wayne Kreisberg, 39, of Parkland) are accused of belonging to a crime ring that "caused corrupt doctors to issue prescriptions for expensive cream that then were billed to victims' insurance companies," as the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Had insurance companies known doctors were getting kickbacks, and that patients were receiving "unnecessary and excessive prescriptions" for the prescription cream, they would not have reimbursed it, authorities said.

Yesterday marked the unsealing of an indictment charging large-scale Mafia racketeering conspiracy activities against 46 people, 39 of whom were arrested by the FBI, which gained at least three handguns, a shotgun, gambling equipment, and more than $30 grand in cash following the raids.

Joey Merlino once fought a war in Philly. Now he allegedly bilked Medicaid
for the cost of "expensive body lotion."

All those named in the indictment were identified by the Feds as members and associates of four of New York's Five Families, plus the Philadelphia-North Jersey group, although Merlino was reportedly the only one from Philly arrested -- and he wasn't even in Philadelphia at the time; he was in Florida when arrested.

No members of the Philly mob other than Merlino were arrested yesterday (despite nearly every news story and a press release reporting otherwise). That said, it also has been reported that a source close to the investigation claims the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Philadelphia and Miami may issue additional indictments.

The mobsters allegedly worked together to commit a "multitude of criminal activities throughout the East Coast," from Springfield, Mass., to the south of Florida. They face racketeering charges related to extortion, arson, health care and credit card fraud, illegal gambling and the sale of illegal firearms and cigarettes.

Most of the indicted are from New York, where most of the criminal activity took place.

The FBI, working in tandem with FBI field offices in New Haven, Newark, Miami and Boston, as well as local law enforcement operations, conducted a multiyear investigation that included an undercover agent and a cooperating witness.

"(The) charges against 46 men, including powerful leaders, members and associates of five different La Cosa Nostra families, demonstrate that the mob remains a scourge," Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for New York's Southern District said in a press release.

"From loansharking and illegal gambling, to credit card and health care fraud, and even firearms trafficking, today’s mafia is fully diversified in its boundless search for illegal profits. And as alleged, threatening to assault, maim and kill people who get in the way of their criminal schemes remains the go-to play in the mob’s playbook."

The Feds identified the three men who allegedly "supervised and controlled" this mob-linked network: alleged Philadelphia crime family boss Merlino; Genovese capo Eugene "Rooster" O’Nofrio, who reportedly ran crews in Manhattan's Little Italy on the once-iconic Mulberry Street; and another alleged Genovese capo named Pasquale Parrello.

The group was dedicated to evading law enforcement scrutiny to such an extent, members were known to meet at highway rest stops and speaking in coded language, according to prosecutors.

Edward A. McDonald, a former federal prosecutor who ran Brooklyn-based organized crime prosecutions in the 1980s, told the New York Times that such cooperation between Mafia families was not uncommon. 

Also, "the charges, while serious, underscored how much has changed from that period (when he worked cases in Brooklyn), when the Mafia’s reach had affected the price of certain goods and services, like concrete and commercial garbage removal, across the entire city."

McDonald said:  “The Mafia is just not engaging in the significant criminal activities they were involved in the past. I’m not saying the war has been won, but it’s pretty close.”

Parrello's Genovese Crew

Some of the indictment's key criminal activity focuses on an illegal casino located in Yonkers that held everything from weekly card games described as "tournaments" to slot machines and betting on horse racing. 

Anthony "Anthony Boy" Zinzi allegedly ran the place with other crew associates, who funneled some of their profits to Parrello, as tribute. 

Then a rival operation set up shop nearby and apparently grew more successful than Zinzi's operation.

So defendant Mark "Stymie" Maiuzzo set afire a car owned by someone with an interest in the rival operation. This was back in March 2011, the same month more than 100 mobsters across the country were rounded up. 

A few months later, Parrello ordered Zinzi and another to attack a panhandler who bothered a woman in a parking lot near Pasquale’s Rigoletto, the restaurant Parrello operated on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. This assault was later called the "ballgame."

When one of the two street thugs later referred to the beating in a discussion with Zinzi, he said: "Remember the old days in the neighborhood when we used to play baseball? A ballgame like that was done."

The Allies used Navajo "Code Talkers" in the effort to decode enemy messages, helping them to win victory in World War II... We think this code-breaking effort required decidedly less effort....

Parrello sent Zinzi and two others, Israel "Buddy" Torres and Vincent Terracciano, to threaten someone who needed to make a payment to an associate. The Genovese capo told "Buddy" to choke the victim and tell him that "next time I’m not gonna stop choking," according to the indictment.

Later, Parrello instructed crew members to intimidate a man who owed money to Luchese and Bonanno family members by slashing his tires.

"Give him a flat," Parrello was recorded saying. "Then you catch up with him because then he’s there, ya know, he’s got to get it fixed, he can’t go nowhere."

The massive, coordinated federal effort stretching from New York to Florida also was oddly compelled to compete with another unrelated bust, in the New York City borough of Queens, that itself capitalized on the largest marquee name in the Mafia since Al Capone.

The East Coast Syndicate case includes no murders. In fact there has not been a clearly identified mob hit since the murder of Michael Meldish, the former Purple Gang boss offed during November 2013 in what's described as a classic gangland hit.

Now we have scenarios such as this, which played out in a Florida courtroom yesterday:

One lesser-known defendant, our "Brad" named as part of Merlino's prescription lotion ring, interrupted a hearing to complain to the judge that he was broke.

He'd just finished a 25-year prison stretch from an unrelated case.

“Now, I’m home and I can’t afford nothing,” he said before he was given a court-appointed lawyer.

Download the indictment as PDF file


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